A tried and tested way to help kids process their emotions

I recently came across an old diary of mine from decades ago. I am not an especially angry person but, wow. In one entry I really let rip about some people who had treated me badly. I had even drawn a picture of the event! And that was that. In the pages that followed, there was nothing more about it. No plots to blow up their house or poison their cats – I was over it. I actually do recall the event, and I also recall, decades later, how cathartic and helpful it was to write out my feelings.

Read more

Some children – and probably a lot of adults too – need a way to unload their emotions. If your child is upset or angry, and is unable to talk about it, ask them to write their feelings down on paper or in a journal. They can express themselves through words or drawings.

If they choose to share it (and don’t automatically assume they will), tell them they can post what they’ve written like a letter by popping it under your pillow, and that you will write back. You can see what is going on – or their perspective on it, anyway – and you can post back your expression of love and support.

Here’s the thing – don’t be surprised if they don’t ‘post the letter’ to you. Like I discovered in my diary, the mere act of writing it all out might be all the processing they need to do. Could they text to you instead of writing? I suppose so, but something romantic in me still likes the idea of the emotion flowing onto paper and being captured there. And you never know – they may read it again in 40 years’ time and smile – like I did.

Attend a Toolbox parenting course

Toolbox courses inspire and equip whānau. They are bursting with great advice, humour and encouragement, offering practical strategies and insights into developmental stages. Parents leave reassured that challenges are common to all families and that they’re not alone on their parenting journey. The courses are run over a number of weeks in a relaxed and conversational small group setting with a trained facilitator. The five courses – Building Awesome Whānau, Baby and Toddler Years, Primary Years, Intermediate Years, and Teenage Years. Find out more and register here.